Medications Used to Treat High Cholesterol

Cholesterol is found in the bloodstream and in all the cells of the body. Cholesterol is produced by the body, and is also obtained from animal foods, such as eggs, meat, and dairy products. The American Heart Association recommends that we should all consume less than 300 milligrams of cholesterol per day. Persons with heart disease should limit this number to less than 200 milligrams of dietary cholesterol per day. Hypercholesterolemia, a high level of cholesterol in the blood, increases the risk of coronary heart disease, which may lead to a heart attack. Different types of drugs may be prescribed to decrease cholesterol. The statins are one type of medication used to slow down the body's production of cholesterol and remove cholesterol buildup in the arteries. Atorvastatin (Lipitor) and simvastatin (Zocor) are examples of statins. Bile acidsequestrants such as colesevelam (Welchol) help to lower LDL, or “bad” cholesterol. Fibric acid derivatives, such as Tricor, help to decrease triglycerides and also increase HDL, or “good” cholesterol. Niacin can lower triglycerides and LDLcholesterol, and also increase HDL cholesterol. Cholesterol absorption inhibitors, such as Zetia, work by decreasing the amount of cholesterol that is absorbed by the intestines.